By Editorial Staff
Published May 1, 1996
Translation by Alexei Salapatov
The following interview was given to Hanuu Haukka, a well-known Finnish missionary, in 1993. The interview was originally slated to appear in a Christian magazine in Russia which became defunct. Alexei Salapatov obtained rights to print this interview for the first rime in Russian in Predvestnik. The following is the interview with Zhirinovsky is as it appeared in Predvestnik in its entirety.
Evangelical Christians are concerned that strong support of Vladimir Zhirinovsky presents a serious danger for the freedom of religion. In this interview Mr. Zhirinovsky expresses his thoughts about his religious heritage and his point of view on religion in Russia.
Q.: – Recently you said: “Under God I walk.” Do you have religious views?
V.Z.: – Of course, I’ve had from my childhood. The place where I was born is the town of Verny [meaning “faithful” in Russian-A.S.], it is close to China and India, and it had Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas. My grandmother was a believer. I even took a Bible from her, the one she asked me to read. Now I have that Bible at my home. My grandmother’s oldest daughter died, so I asked to have that book. There are notes in that book she used to make. So, as you see, I’ve read it. But later, at my school and university, naturally I had no religious education. On the contrary, we had a kind of regime in which we had to take atheism exams. Well, surely, this prevented the strengthening of my faith, but I always kept those persuasions within me. I’m against the intrusion of Russia by strange beliefs, especially eastern religions. I belong to the Orthodox church. I was baptized. So in my opinion, I’m closer to Russian Orthodox Christianity, to Christianity in general, but within Christianity to the Russian Orthodoxy.
Q.: – In the fall of 1993, there were attempts to limit or even stop work of foreign Christian missions?
V.Z.: – I support it. We’ll surely stop the work of all western Christian and eastern religions, and also Islam. Russia is an Eastern Orthodox country. We don’t need this religious cosmopolitanism. It’s no good. The Eastern Orthodoxy was in the foundation of Russia. It has been uniting the nations of Russia. I’m an adherent of this. I demanded this [restrictions]. We’ll limit in all ways the work of religious faiths which are foreign to us.
Q.: – However the Bible teaches us to be patient …
V.Z.: – Patient, of course, patient. So let everyone confess their own faith and, as it were, one shouldn’t infringe another. We should be patient and not get into someone else’s country. [Russian] Orthodox priests don’t go around the world forcing people to convert to [Russian] Orthodoxy and accept their doctrines. Therefore, Russia is the most patient and tolerant country. We do not impose our lifestyle on anyone. We always defensive. People intrude on us from everywhere. We say: “Don’t tread on us.” We do not tread on you. “Tolerance …” But today there is a war between Muslims in the southern regions [Tadjikistan, Azerbaijan-A.S.] – not between Russian Orthodox priests. In western Ukraine, the Eastern Orthodox Church temples are being captured by Catholics, but Orthodox priests do not take any action, they merely defend. So in my opinion, that’s the right policy.
Q.: – Should the Orthodox Church and its patriarch, in particular, be a judge in the matter of who has the right to religious activity in Russia?
V.Z.: – I think it has to be done by the political leaders of the country together with the patriarch of Moscow. But the current patriarch is a weak one, he needs to be replaced. That’s what we’ve inherited from the communists. We need a new patriarch, for example, Johann of Saint-Petersburg. [one of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church known for his ultra-nationalism – A.S.] The Synod should elect a new patriarch – a pure, independent – who is also a true believer. Instead, we have a lot of communist preachers in there. That’s not how it should be. Maybe we need to call back some of the Ancient Faith adherents [the term for Russian Orthodox believers who had been persecuted from the time of Peter the Great – A.S.]. They have kept their purity. These whom we have now are merely officials.
Q.: – What would be the role of the church in the state where you would be president?
V.Z.: – In my book, “The Ride to the South,” I wrote that my will is for the bells of the Russian Orthodox Church to ring from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. That is a chime which will bring peace for the heart and unite the state in strength.
Q.: – Will this be a threat to the Protestant Church?
V.Z.: – To what? … No, I’m not against Christian churches. I mean, in general, the danger is from Oriental faiths and Islam. And, for instance, Baptists, Adventists, Lutherans, Pentecostals – let them exist on line with others. I’m against the capturing of Eastern Orthodox temples [by other denominations]. Let Catholics build their own churches and works. I believe in full freedom for Christians of all denominations. The only thing I oppose is persecuting of Eastern Orthodox priests and temples. There is no problem with the opening of new houses of prayer for Lutherans and Pentecostals. As to Christian denominations, there should be total freedom. But do not seize Eastern Orthodox temples, I mean.
Q.: – People say you are against Jews …
V.Z.: – They behave very badly here in Russia. They attempt to destroy Russia. They are nice everywhere except Russia. They are aggressive, cruel and, finally, they hate everything that is Russian. By the way, my grandmother was Baptist (another grandmother, not the orthodox one). Her name is still on the list of members of a church in Alma Ata. The leader of that community, his name is Nikitenko, now lives in Moscow. He knows her, he remembers her – Feona Nikiforovna Makarova is her name. So as you see, I’ve got ties to so-called “religious diversity.” I’m Orthodox, but my grandmother was Baptist and she used to bring me to their House of prayer. I still remember that house. So I’m not against different Christian denominations. But we have to limit the work of hostile and foreign beliefs.
Q.: – Russians say that you’ve got good sense of humor. Recently, we heard there was an anecdote in the Russian press which says that the Masons captured you and cut your tongue …
V.Z.: – They permanently wish bad things for me, unfortunately. There are the Masons, the Israeli Intelligence – the Mossad, the CIA, British intelligence service, German intelligence – all of them now in Russia because the state is weak and our Intelligence service is weak as well. So everybody is acting. Well, what can we do?! The time will come in Russia when its faith will rise up and everything will take a proper place. Christian preachers should help in this matter not prevent it.
Q.:- Americans are very religious and they have their own point of view on everything. What kind of relationship will you be seeking with the USA when you are president?
V.Z.: – Normal relations. Calm and equal ones. But we are against America’s pretensions to prevail in those areas of the world which are traditionally related to us: Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, the southern countries bordering Russia – Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey. That’s all. We do not pretend to have influence in Asia. You have China, Japan and India – no problem. You’ve got the American continent – no problem. We are not opponents to your intruding into Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Africa – we don’t care about them. We do care about our neighbors: Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Japan. They are our neighbors, ten countries. There we’d like to have influence here and a normal, calm situation, including religious freedom.
Q.: – Finnish believers will be glad to bless Russia …
V.Z.: – We are not against that. We always have had good relations with Finnish people, fifty years of trade experience, cultural exchanges. The distance from St. Petersburg to the country is only two hundred kilometers. That’s the closest country, the most civilized, with its own culture. So we’d be happy to have more influence from that country and more cultural contacts in all ways between Russia and Finland.
Q.: – When you were baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church, was it a political move only?
V.Z.: – Well, it wasn’t a political move. It was because of our history and because the Russian Orthodox Church has been playing a significant role for over a thousand years in the matter of self-consciousness, in the uniting of peoples and nations. It was the basis for the society. Communism only existed 70 years and it was not a basis for any type of spiritual unity of the nations. That’s the reason why most people still have faith … especially the older generation. And the younger generation is really ready and willing to accept faith. Therefore, there will be a purification of souls from the evil which was promoted for all those decades. And, finally, there will be born a new, religious generation who will have faith from the womb of their mother.
Q.: – What do you expect western Christian organizations to do in order to help Russia?
V.Z.: – They must stop aiding those anti-Russian, anti-Christian forces. They are all former communists; they are werewolves. They were destroying church buildings, the people’s faith, they were forbidding everything, putting innocent people in jail. Western religious centers support this regime by blessing it. But it’s terrible! Terrible. Therefore, they should stop supporting the forces who had ties to the Communist Party. And the majority of them are like that, except me. I’m the only person who wasn’t in the Communist Party. The rest of leaders of political parties are former communist workers, they used to occupy high offices and were always destroying religious institutions of Russia. And the western Christian centers support them. And it isn’t clear, what is so Christian in this? You call to love those who are barbarians, those who are antichrists, who torture Russia and shoot her parliament. You support those who imprisoning the believers. It’s terrible. How can you do such types of things in the West?
Q.:- Western Christian churches and missions have brought millions of Bibles to Russia … By the way, do you have a Bible?
V.Z.: – I do. I have about twenty Bibles by now. And the most valuable Bible is the one I received from my grandmother. I read my very first lines from it. My grandmother used to ask me to read the Bible for her because her eyes were weak. Then I was thirteen years of age. In it the 1959 calendar was used as a bookmark. Some of the passages that were her favourite are marked. That old Bible is my most valuable, most favorite and, in fact, my first Bible.
Q.: – Do you have a favorite place in the Bible?
V.Z.: – Well, hmmm …
Q.: – What is your favorite book?
V.Z.: – Yeah … I like most the passages devoted to the soul. I like those historical moments – like journey through the wilderness. It’s history and it’s certainly important, but I like even more the preaching of salvation from vices, where you can see the foundations of Christianity as a general ethics for all. I like the places where there are warnings against the vices.
Q.: – What is your personal opinion about Jesus Christ?
V.Z.: – Well, He is the image, the ideal human being, the God-man to which people want to aspire to. Because He dedicated Himself to God’s ministry being His image and personification for each believer.
Q.: – You speak millions of words. Are you aware that each word is …
V.Z.: – Yes, yes, I say quite a lot. I put meaning into each word knowing that it’s a great responsibility. And millions of people should benefit from this. My speech must not harm people or bring hostility. Many things depend on political leaders. Usually they start wars where a lot of Christians die and it’s terrible. That’s the reason why I try to stop this…
Q.: – Some people think that you are possessed … (NOTE: In Russian, “being possessed” conveys not only negative meaning, like “being possessed by an evil spirit, wildly mad”, but also “being greatly influenced by an idea, dream, etc.”)
V.Z.: – Well, you know, some people need to be – those who try to lead those who got lost, those who stopped believing, those who have been intoxicated by the latest ideological teachings. So I think there must be a certain type of being possessed. Otherwise, you couldn’t lead those people, it wouldn’t be possible to take them out from the abyss where they find themselves now. Therefore, it’s probably needed. Otherwise, nothing else can be done …
Q.: – One last question. Who leads you? God?
V.Z.: – I think so. I used to walk by St. Nicholas church when I was a child. Often in my dreams, I walked by that church. And there is an attraction to that church. Here I come by the stony road (at that time we didn’t have asphalt). There was an old house, that old church and a marketplace. And there was an attraction to that church building, I have always felt it, that actually motivated me. It was an inner motivation. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been the person I am now. The rest are just ordinary officials. They are phoney political leaders. But what I’ve experienced is the desire for leadership not for the sake of creating a political party, I mean to help to my fellowmen. I’ve seen all the difficulties of my nation. I’ve been sorrowful to see my people in such a bad condition. I never sought to spare myself, I was never envious. Of course, I always wanted to have a better suit or a better apartment, just like any other man. But it was pity to see all those suffering people around me. It was inside of my heart, there was something divine from God. That power is crystallizing even more now.
Q.: – So, you think you are led by God?
V.Z.: – Yes, yes, yes.
Q.: – We will pray for you.
V.Z.: – Thank you.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
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